What To Do If A Car Dealer Won’t Give You Your Car Title

When purchasing a car from a dealer, receiving the title is a crucial part of the process, as it legally certifies your ownership of the vehicle. If a car dealer refuses or delays in providing you with the title, it can be a source of significant concern. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to handle such a situation:

Understanding the Importance of a Car Title

  1. Legal Proof of Ownership: The car title is the legal document that proves you own the car. Without it, you may face legal challenges in proving ownership.
  2. Necessary for Registration: You need the title to register the vehicle in your name with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Immediate Steps to Take

  1. Contact the Dealer: Reach out to the dealership to inquire about the delay. Miscommunication or administrative errors are common and can be resolved with a simple call.
  2. Document Communication: Keep a record of all communications with the dealer, including emails, calls, and in-person conversations.

If the Dealer Is Unresponsive or Refuses

  1. Escalate Within the Dealership: If the initial contact does not resolve the issue, escalate the matter to a manager or the owner of the dealership.
  2. Check Your Contract: Review the sales contract for any clauses related to the title transfer. It might provide specific timelines or conditions.
  1. File a Complaint: If the dealer remains uncooperative, file a complaint with your state’s DMV, Attorney General's office, or consumer protection agency.
  2. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney who specializes in consumer or automotive law. They can provide guidance on your legal rights and options.
  3. Consider a Surety Bond: In some states, you can get a surety bond to prove ownership without a title. This is a legal route often used when titles are lost or unavailable.

Preventive Measures for Future

  1. Research Dealerships: Before purchasing, research the dealership’s reputation. Look for reviews and any history of complaints.
  2. Understand State Laws: Familiarize yourself with your state's laws regarding title transfer timelines and processes.
  3. Inspect All Documents: Before finalizing the purchase, ensure all necessary documents are in order and ask about the title transfer process.


Dealing with a car dealer who won't give you the title can be frustrating, but there are steps you can take to resolve the issue. Starting with direct communication and escalating to legal action if necessary, it's important to know your rights and the resources available to you. Always keep thorough records of all transactions and communications related to the car purchase.

Remember, your rights as a consumer are protected, and there are mechanisms in place to help you resolve such issues. If you find yourself in this situation, stay informed, be persistent, and seek professional advice if needed.

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